The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, the young progressive who helped launch a reckoning amongst antitrust scholars and enforcers, in a 69-28 vote. From a report: At 32, Khan will become the youngest commissioner ever confirmed to the agency. Her confirmation also signals a bipartisan desire to impose more regulations on Big Tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet and Apple. Khan received the support of several Republicans, including Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who participated in her confirmation hearing. Still, others like Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, opposed her confirmation. Lee has tended to be cautious about certain types of regulation despite concerns about tech companies’ influence and previously expressed apprehension about Khan’s experience.
Khan became a well-known figure in antitrust circles after writing “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” for the Yale Law Review in 2017, while a student at the university. The paper made the case for using a different framework for evaluating competitive harm than the popular consumer welfare standard. That standard essentially says that antitrust law violations can be determined based on harm to consumers, which is often measured based on prices. But Khan argued that standard could miss significant competitive harm in the modern economy, such as predatory pricing that lowers consumer prices in the short term but allows a company that can afford it to quickly gain market share. She also argued that both owning and selling on a marketplace, like Amazon does, could allow a business to exploit information across their ecosystem to undercut the competition.